I wrote Vespers in response to Taselby's title challenge. Thanks, Taselby!
I don't own Duncan, Methos or the concepts of Immortality and no one at Rysher, Panzer/Davis told me I could play with their toys. Feedback always welcomed (and responded to) at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've only been here for three days and already it seems like an eternity has passed. How could I have been so foolish, allowed so much to remain unspoken between us, permitted myself the luxury of assuming that I would be able to explain myself to him someday. Someday I'd tell him how sorry I was for the way I'd treated him when Cassandra and Kronos showed up. Someday I'd confess that it was only my pride that had stopped me from admitting that I knew I'd let him goad me into behaving like such an ass. Someday I'd tell him how much brighter my world was with him in it, tell him that he'd touched a place in me that I hadn't even known about before I met him. I'd tell him how much I need him, in so very many ways. Someday never came....
He'd known anyway.
I'd always suspected that he might; but now, with his Quickening living in me, existing as a part of me, I knew it to be true. He'd understood only too well how foolish my pride is, and he'd really been looking forward to needling me mercilessly about it when I finally owned up to my mistakes.
God, I wish I could have seen that.
Methos always looked to the future, he'd known he'd be unable to stay sane and dwell too long, linger too often in the past. I'm the one who's unable to let things go, who broods over events that can't be changed.
What will I do now? I've lost so many...so very many people that I've loved in these last few years, but until this past week...until this week I'd had no idea at all how much pain one man, one Immortal can feel. How much agony you can endure and somehow still remain sane.
Am I? Still sane?
I really have no answer for that question. I suppose that's why I'm here, come back once again to the place I always go when life becomes too much for me to bear.
Holy Ground. It's our refuge, our sanctuary. Why do I always feel so naked when I come here?
It began four days ago. I answered the hesitant knock to find Joe standing in my doorway. His grizzled features were slicked with tears, sliding down his cheeks they dripped slowly into his beard. My heart lurched, stuttering painfully in my chest when I saw him. Even after all the horror we've survived together, still, I've only seen that beaten down look on Joe's face one other time. I saw it that horrific night at the racetrack, when he stood facing me over the slaughtered remains of Richie Ryan. If possible, standing in my doorway that morning he looked worse.
"Joe?" I grabbed onto the doorjamb with all of the strength in my hands, making a vain effort to steady myself, to hold fast. An attempt that I knew for futile, even as I made it.
"Mac, I don't know how to tell you this...."
"Then just tell me," I broke in; I couldn't stand not knowing for even one more heartbeat. "Who is it?"
No. I don't believe it. I can't...I won't, not Amanda...please, God...no. But I had to believe him; Joe's eyes were so sad, so full of fear and sympathy, and I knew that what he'd told me was the truth. Amanda was dead. I sagged back against the doorframe, hot anguished tears scalding their way down my face. I had loved Amanda in a way that was uniquely hers. In a way that I would never again love another woman.
"Who?" I whispered, knowing with deadly certainty in that moment that I wouldn't rest, wouldn't stop until after I found the motherfucker that had killed her. Found him and destroyed him.
"A punk kid," Joe offered, scrubbing his hand across his face. "A random challenge she couldn't talk her way out of. Mac, he didn't...he doesn't fight fair."
That son of a bitch. Don't worry, Joe, that's really not going to be a problem. Whatever I have to do, there is no way in hell that I'm letting this pissant cheating little shit get away from me. And when I do find him, then I'm going to destroy him--one useless little piece at a time. Whoever he is, wherever he is--he's mine.
"There's more, Mac," Joe said, his voice breaking through my thoughts, distracting me from the solid wall of fury coalescing within. "Methos knows; by some fucked coincidence he hacked into the Watcher Database not an hour after Amanda's Watcher filed her Terminal Report."
Terminal Report.... What a hideous term.
"Methos?" I asked, not quite keeping up. Joe's voice had distracted me away from my anger for a moment, and I almost fell to my knees, the sudden lance of pain a physical entity-twisting, slicing its way through me again. "What does he have to do with this?" I really should have known before Joe told me. I probably would have if I hadn't hurt so much, if I'd been able to think clearly.
"Mac...Methos has already gone after him."
What? I shoved hard away from the wall, furious and glad of it. What right did Methos have to avenge Amanda's death? Revenging her death was my job. Who the hell was he to fight my battles? Again. Her Quickening should be mine; I wanted it, needed it. It was the only piece of Amanda still left; and it, by God, belonged to me.
Joe didn't even pretend ignorance; he answered immediately, clearly and concisely. I'm sure he'd driven to my house knowing precisely what I would want to know, the questions he would need to answer to satisfy me. On second thought...seeing the smoldering rage, burning past the pain in his eyes, to satisfy both of us.
I was on the next plane to Chicago, so angry that it was all I could do to manage the barest minimums of civility. I was in a killing rage over Amanda's death and so furious with Methos for interfering that I considered killing him myself when I found him. What had he been thinking? Didn't he understand? I had to find this bastard myself and destroy him. Had to.
I couldn't get away from the airport fast enough. Thank God the updated directions Joe provided me with during the flight proved blessedly easy to follow. But still, it wasn't fast enough. Joe's last words chased their way around the inside of my skull, driving me on, pushing me forward, faster and faster....
"Mac, he's already there. Methos got into town two hours ago."
"Damn him!" This is my vengeance, my hatred that needs completion.
I threw the car into the last turn, skidding to a stop on the empty street in front of the ugly, abandoned warehouse. Even before the engine died I reached out, with everything within me-hunting for the presence of others of my kind. Katana in hand, I crept along in the shadows, moving as quickly as caution and stealth would allow. Much as I wanted to, I couldn't simply charge in like the fucking cavalry after this bastard. Joe's voice whispered non-stop in the back of my brain, cool reason holding back the boiling rage. "Mac, he doesn't fight fair." So I dodged from one shelter to another, my nerves and emotions stretched taut.
There. I felt it. Immortal Presence whispered along my spine, throwing my body into a hyper-drive driven frenzy of bloodlust and hate. Not that it did anyone any good....
Mere seconds later I was hurled onto the ground, a Quickening unlike anything I had ever seen, or even conceived of, swirling around me, its brilliance crackling and blazing through the sky.
Too late. Again. I'd almost made it, almost got here in time to stop this. But I didn't. Didn't. And now, Methos is...dead. Just like Darius. Just like Tessa. And Fitz and Amanda, and ... Richie .... One more person I loved had been slaughtered because he was close to me, because I hadn't prevented it somehow. And Methos had chosen to place himself in danger, risking...losing his life because he was worried about me-didn't think I would be in any condition to take on a cheat and a coward, someone who doesn't play by the Rules.
Who's the fool now, old man?
I had to know, had to see it to really believe it...even though I already knew. Even so, I had to look this latest failure in the face, see it for what it truly was. I staggered to my feet, and forced my way forward...closer to something I'd never thought I'd live to see. Putting my head down against the cyclonically swirling winds, I pushed on. I gritted my teeth, grinding them until my jaw ached. I ignored the stray tendrils of energy lashing at my body, tormenting me with the brilliantly stark failure that they represented. I had to reach my goal.
I turned the corner, and there it all was, every cursed bit of it ...Methos... and him, the dead man. I froze in place, staring at him in a blind haze of red-tinged despite. The fool was completely oblivious to my presence, totally lost in the passion, ecstasy and terror that had been Methos.
Methos, whose body in death was wrenchingly reminiscent of his time in my life. Sprawled on the ground, he looked like so many of my favorite images of him. Before everything started going so very wrong. That blessedly easy time of peace, when Methos was a living breathing force, an unquenchable, reluctant power in my life. Even now, Methos seemed able to mold himself onto any surface.
Clenching my hands into rigid balls I held myself still, waiting for the Quickening to end-it seemed like it was going to go on forever. While I waited, I stored up all of my memories, binding them to my heart. I made sure that I'd never forget any of the days and nights Methos had spent draped over my surfaces, like he was always meant to be there. Maybe he was. I wish we could have found out....
His...head is so close to his body. A mere hands length away. Something nags at me, determined to get my attention, but I don't spare thought for it. I'm caught, frozen, held motionless. I can't tear my eyes away from his. Don't want to either.
Methos' passionate sea green eyes. They had lit up with such glittering amusement, witnessed so much of the dull boredom of life. Eyes that had gleamed in delighted mischief, ached with solitary pain. And in the eternity of that endless moment, I finally realized the damning truth, knew it beyond any possibility of a doubt. These were eyes that I could have lost myself forever in-if only I'd found the courage to take that final step.
They're flat and empty now...blank-void forever of the rare spirit that had sustained them, brought them to irrepressible life.
Then I saw it. A small tidy bullet hole centered in Methos' forehead. Obscene in its indifference.
A rage beyond anything I've ever felt exploded in me, a white-hot inferno heating my anguished fury to epic proportions, its intensity demanding instant release. Somehow I reined the hatred in, made myself wait-wanting this murdering thing cognizant. I wanted him to know who he was...where he was. What was happening; what was about to happen. Clenching my jaw so tightly that my teeth scraped off of each other, I held myself perfectly still...waiting.
Finally the maelstrom stilled, the other Immortal fell to the ground, his body totally unable to move.
But I could.
Without mercy, without remorse, Hell itself rose up in me and I revenged the friends I had loved so deeply.
I don't remember the next few hours at all. I was willingly lost, floating free from the pain, blessedly adrift with them in my heart, cherishing their love, their soothing presence in my soul. Amanda. Methos. My Immortal Beloved.
The evening sun's reflecting off of the water now, scattering beauty and peace in its wake, totally unconscious of the impossibilities in the lives it graces with its glory. I remember Paul's monastery; it's time for the evening prayers, time to offer up words even more Eternal than we are. I murmur them softly to myself, lost in the memories, love and comfort of my two best friends, forever more the very best part of me.
"'Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine; et lux perpetua luceat eis. Rest eternal grant them, O Lord; and let light perpetual shine upon them.'"
What I have done is yours, what I have to do is yours;